Boston Opera House
343 Huntington Avenue,
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This large theater was built by department store heir and arts patron Eben Jordan for the new Boston Opera Company. It opened on November 8, 1909 and was located half way between Symphony Hall and the Museum of Fine Arts, on the same side of Huntington Avenue. On the staff of the opera company was a young Joseph Urban, who later bacame a famous scenic and costume designer for Ziegfeld and others, as well as a theater architect.
When the opera company failed for financial reasons, the big theater was sold to the Shubert brothers who operated it as a road-show house. Opera, ballet and big musicals predominated. But it was often dark. The theater was closed suddenly in 1956 per order of the city building inspector for alleged structural defects. Along with a massive brick storage warehouse on its west side, it was demolished in January-February 1958, and the land used for Northeastern University facilities.
The Shuberts frequently presented movies at their Majestic Theatre downtown, and in October 1914, the feature film “For Napoleon and France” opened at the Boston Opera House. It was accompanied by a stage show which undoubtedly was themed to the movie. It was a twice-daily reserved-seat engagement. A projection booth may have been installed in one of the center boxes (the theater had two full horseshoe tiers of private boxes with two balconies above.) Or, the projectors could have been located in the follow-spot booth above the second balcony. It’s very likely that there were other road-show film engagements there during the 1910s and possibly in the 1920s as well.
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